This week, two organizations listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center will convene in Washington D.C. for their annual conferences: the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and ACT for America. Both of which have ties to the Trump Administration. And both, despite advocates’ efforts to warn members of Congress away from participating, will feature a number of GOP members of Congress, proving once again that bigotry has unfortunately become a hallmark of today’s Republican Party.
On September 4th and 5th, ACT for America will be hosting its annual conference at the Hyatt in Crystal City, Virginia. ACT. Its founder Brigitte Gabriel have a long history of engaging in bigoted and anti-Muslim activities. Gabriel has stated that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and wrote in her 2006 book that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.” ACT has continually promoted “anti-Sharia laws” and Islamophobic conspiracy theories. They also organized nationwide anti-Muslim rallies in June 2017, which attracted the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups which attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that following August.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been a long time a ally of ACT, previously speaking at ACT’s conference in 2013 and 2015. And Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pled guilty to lying to the the FBI, was an advisor to ACT’s board of directors.
This year, the ACT conference coincides with FAIR’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. FAIR was founded by white nationalist John Tanton, who helped create a network of anti-immigrant organizations — many of which are also hate groups — whose influence is found at every level of the Trump Administration. See here for a list of colleagues and alumni from the Tanton network who work or have worked in Trump’s White House.
FAIR’s early financial backers, the Pioneer Fund, shared Tanton’s belief in eugenics and white racial superiority. They have done little, outside weak denials, to move away from this legacy of bigotry. Instead, FAIR has continued to use racialized attacks against immigrants. Last week, the only Latino employee at FAIR resigned, alleging endemic racial bigotry from FAIR’s president Dan Stein on down. Joe Gomez, the former employee, spoke about instances such as the time a senior staffer pretended to be an undocumented immigrant by smearing herself with mud, and said that FAIR deserved its hate group distinction.
We will be watching to see who shows up at these hate fests. Members of Congress should condemn, not condone, this kind of bigotry.